Songlines

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via Daily Prompt: Conquer

Apart from a few appointments and scheduled errands I live in non-linear time. I don’t create to do lists anymore, I don’t plan out in detail what I have to achieve this week or month or year. I don’t conquer, I just live the moment and move to the next with a vision what my dreams are. Vision is not a finish line on a linear track, rather a song that I’m already singing or scent that I already feel and live out moment by moment. At the same time I love some degree of a daily routine, because for me the routine is ritual.

Actually it’s quite hard to describe non-linear living. Maybe that’s why I was astonished to hear a story of songlines. A few weeks ago I saw a documentary about an underground sea in Australia. It’s called sea in myths but it’s an enormous water reservoir in reality. There are many technologies in nowadays how to try to find those spots on deserted ground where you can reach the underground water. But indigenous Australians didn’t have any maps, they had songlines. These songs are not written, they are taught and remembered from generation to generation and they are kept in secret from everyone else. So what are the songlines?

A knowledgeable person is able to navigate across the land by repeating the words of the song, which describe the location of landmarks, waterholes, and other natural phenomena. By singing the songs in the appropriate sequence, indigenous people could navigate vast distances, often traveling through the deserts of Australia’s interior. “Fixated as we are by the clock and the calendar, and trusting of historical – and spiritual – references that are written on parchment or paper, or digitized, rather than passed down the generations orally, the songline is not an easy concept for the non-Indigenous to grasp,” wrote Paul Daily in an article for Guardian.

In his 1987 book The Songlines, British novelist and travel writer Bruce Chatwin describes the songlines as:

“…the labyrinth of invisible pathways which meander all over Australia and are known to Europeans as “Dreaming-tracks” or “Songlines”; to the Aboriginals as the “Footprints of the Ancestors”…”

“The melodic contour of the song describes the land over which the song passes … certain phrases, certain combinations of musical notes, are thought to describe the actions of the ancestors’ feet. An expert song man … would count how many times he has crossed a river or scaled a ridge – and be able to calculate where, and how far along, the songline he was … A musical phrase is a map reference. Music is a memory bank for finding one’s way about the world.”

Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines, 1987

Instead of conquering time and space why not to sing the song of our dreams and follow our own songline, to follow the dreaming track. Why not to dance to our heartbeat.

Conquer

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5 Comments

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  1. Ok, that is absolutely fascinating. I must learn more about these song lines. How wonderfully refreshing it is to hear about other ways of thinking and living! Dance your own dance!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Harold Rhenisch March 20, 2017 — 17:13

    Such storied lines exist in the Pacific Northwest of North America as well, in my country, but are not attached to songs.

    Liked by 1 person

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